We’ve all been there, right? One day, you’re kickin’ it in the big city, enjoying life as the big cheese, and then BAM—you witness a vicious murder and are forced into witness protection in a town far, far away. It’s happened to me two or three times already so I was delighted to fine that this is exactly the predicament that Stella Gordon finds herself in in Becca Fitzpatrick’s Dangerous Lies. Her story of navigating witness protection in middle-of-nowhere Nebraska, coupled with my own vast experience, inspired me to pull together these witness protection survival tips so that if/when you fine Riveted readers wind up in a similar predicament, you’ll be a little more prepared for surviving your new life. Trust me, these tips are gold so you may want to have a pen and paper handy to jot down some notes…
Dressing Extra is your friend
This may seem counter intuitive, but think about it – if you were to encounter someone on your daily commute with a vertical pony tail, or a hilariously bad fake mustache, would you remember their face, or the shockingly out of place doohickey they’ve hung on their person? As an added bonus, you are basically creating a nickname for yourself, another layer of anonymity that will come in handy if your pursuers ever swing by. If being extra isn’t really your thing, why not take a page out of the Superman/She’s All That playbook? I’m talking about glasses. As we all know, the addition or subtraction of glasses immediately renders you a new person. Try it out!
Fall in love with a local
While you probably have a boo back home that you’re trying to make things work with, there is no better way to really experience the local flavor than to cozy up with a townie. Witness protection nights out on the plains can get mighty lonesome (and cold. No one ever warned me how cold it could be). After perfecting your costume, get out there and try and meet someone! Maybe the strong-but-silent farmer’s son. Or the quirky, trapped barista that wants to hear everything about your former city life. Don’t worry, these feelings definitely won’t complicate your double life.
It’s your life! And now that you’re in witness protection, you’re definitely creating some memories for your tell-all memoir. Make sure to keep notes so you don’t leave out any details, particularly names, dates, and exact locations. I’ve found that Twitter works surprisingly well for this, providing you permanent, chronological list of all your activities in digestible, 140 character entries! As an added bonus, it lets the people you’re close with back home know exactly where you are at all times! That brings us to our next piece of advice…
Keep in touch with your friends back home
It’s important to not burn bridges. You never know when you’ll need a friend back home to send you a care package of Chicago red-hots or New York bagels. Plus, when this whole thing has blown over, you want to be able to seamlessly slip back into your old life. And don’t worry about exposure – your loved ones are far too smart to end up caught by the very same people that have chased you out of town, so be sure to include as much detail as possible about your new routines.
Do absolutely nothing to fit in
For arguments sake, let’s say that you’re originally part of the New England elite, shuttled off to a place like Thunder Basin, Nebraska. Who do you think the bad guys are going to look for – the too-perfect Norman Rockwell-esque local, or the fish-out-of-water dressed like they’re about to attend a boat party at Martha’s Vineyard? Pursuers will expect you to try your hardest to fit in, so what better way to throw them off the scent than by remaining completely true to yourself? If you’re placed in Nome, Alaska, keep wearing seersucker shorts and boat shoes. Are you stationed in a beef town? Stick to your vegetarian ways and constantly remind everyone you don’t eat meat. If you get flak from your handlers, remember that you are your own boss. Uniqueness is key.
Poke as many holes in your government sponsored backstory as possible
What better way to endear yourself to the new people around you than to keep them on their toes about your stories? Maybe you’ve told your new neighbor that you’re from Savannah, Georgia, but your weak Southern drawl keeps giving way to New England twang. Or you keep bringing up your brother when you’ve told your new beau time and again that you’re an only child. The constant flip flopping and incongruities in your stories will make you seem mysterious and only add to your allure as the new person in town – and we all know that popularity is the only contest that really matters.
OK, on second thought, none of this advice seems very good. Did I mention these should only be used if you’re starring in a comedy movie? Do not ask me any more questions. Instead, check out, Dangerous Lies and our other devilishly fun Summer of Deception picks!